Gay Marriage, Gay Contempt–both Desacralize the Sacred

In my last post I highlighted a quote by author and speaker Ravi Zacharias who was asked the following question, “Why do Christians see racism as wrong but don’t see opposing homosexuality as equally wrong?” In response Zacharias made the following point, “The reason we are against racism is because a person’s race is sacred. A person’s ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate it. My race is sacred; your race is sacred; I dare not violate it. The reason we react against the issue of homosexuality the way we do is because  sexuality is sacred.”

That last point really does get to the heart of the issue in regards to the current debate over gay marriage. Christians simply cannot celebrate and affirm gay marriage because we believe both marriage and sex are sacred (i.e. associated with a divine idea or ordination). “For this reason [i.e. marriage] a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, Mt. 19:5)

Christians believe that marriage is ultimately about sexual biology not sexual preference. If it was about sexual preference, then marriage could be just about anyone or anything someone sexually prefers–and in our world today a lot of deviant and degenerate preferences can fall under that category. This is the problem the “other side” wants to simply dismiss as irrelevant–but it is not. It goes to the core issue. If we start saying, “love is all you need” and “sexual preference is enough” to redefine marriage and justify one’s proclivities, then I want to know on what basis can someone tell another person that his unique sexual proclivity and preference is unacceptable?

In states like California mental health professionals and legislators are already calling pedophilia a “sexual orientation.” Therefore if someone wanted to have his “natural,” sexual preference to young boys be lawfully condoned, how would it not be discrimination to disavow him acting on that orientation or being hired as an elementary teacher? What about a man who wanted to have his marriage to four women be legally recognized as legitimate? How about a father who wanted to marry his daughter, or an uncle his niece, truly believing he loved her and she loved him? On what basis can one say, “Nope–that is outside the boundary of acceptable love and preference!” If a bi-sexual who prefers both sexes wanted to marry both a man and a woman, on what objective basis can one reject his or her “right” to marry both?

I never get a straight answer to this. Usually I am told, “Those issues are altogether unrelated and irrelevant because gays and lesbians reject those views too!” Granted that may be true. But the question is not, “What do gays and lesbians also reject?” The question is, “If love and sexual preference is ‘all you need’ for justification then on what objective, moral basis do you affirm the one as lawful and sacred and condemn the others?”

As I see it the challenge for Christians is to sincerely and gently point out that while “love is all you need” sounds great in theory it falls woefully short in God’s mind in being able to sufficiently undergird the sacred ordination of marriage. Given that sacred signifies divinely inspired we would be remiss in thinking that God’s rejection and therefore the church’s rejection of gay marriage is simply arbitrary or capricious. Not so–it is established on reason. [1]

The ruin of a nation begins with its families. A nation is nothing more than a collection of communities and those communities are in turn a collection of smaller communities called families. I’ve been living and working in Cambodia for almost 5 years now and the scourge of its abandoned, neglected and orphaned children is a direct result of the breakdown of the family–sometimes due to death and poverty but mostly due to ethical poverty and unfaithfulness. I oversee an orphanage and we do our best to be a family, but I have realized there is no substitute for the family as God intended it. And God’s ideal should always be encouraged in every possible manner. Approving of and celebrating gay marriages is not progression but regression.

The fact is that families with caring mothers and fathers are indispensable to the well-being of children. Decades of social research backs that claim up.[2] But should it surprise us to learn that this is true? Should it surprise us that research consistently shows that mothers and fathers are uniquely gifted to meet different needs, both psychological and emotional in the lives of their children–needs that result in dysfunction when they remain unmet? Should it surprise us to learn that on average children from single-parent homes struggle in life and are less successful than children from duel parent homes?

When we understand that both a mother and a father are indispensable in producing a child, should it really be a contentious claim to state that those same two people are indispensable in the rearing up of that child in a healthy and balanced manner?

The liberal agenda is to ignore these realities and be outright dismissive of both current research, nature and thousands of years of history, while not perfect, has nonetheless allowed the human race to flourish and not die out. Lesbian couples would say fatherhood is irrelevant–except for that sperm donor thing. Gay couples would say mothers are irrelevant–except for that all important 9-month womb period.

The point is marriage is the God-designed union that allows male and female sexes to become husband and wife and potentially become father and mother. Even in the case of an older man marrying an older woman who is no longer able to bear children, the underlying sacred nature of complimentary sex is present. Describing marriage as a “union based on sexual preference” is far too vague, nebulous and dangerous. As I see it the argument isn’t one about rights, but about proper description. In other words every individual has the right to marry–i.e. to enter into the definition of marriage.

It is not bigoted or discriminatory to put forth the motion that one must accord with what a definition is in order to be described by that definition. That is to say a union of two people must accord with what marriage is by definition in order to be qualified as a marriage. And as far as the church is concerned same-sex marriage is more or less an oxymoron and incoherent. There are gay couples and there are married couples. They have no bearing on one another. One is defined by the union being same-sex. The other is a union defined as male and female.

Sacredness can be a double edged sword. Because the church believes marriage is sacred–that means it doesn’t owe its legitimacy to any secular government or piece of legislation. In some sense the government really doesn’t have anything to do with marriage per se–and for much history it never did in Christendom. If anarchy were to ensue and government were to disappear marriages would not. Marriage is ultimately the realm of a church or some other religious body.

Now what government can do is grant legal status to unions called “marriages” for the accruing of certain state/civilian benefits. What gay couples really want is to define their own unions as a “marriage” because current law only affords certain tax breaks and other benefits to married couples. But as stated earlier, Christians hold that marriage is anchored in a sacred description based on sex not sexual preference. Therefore it is not open for re-defining. So even if a government were to legally define gay couples as married couples it would not change the Church’s scriptural position on the matter. A church whose rule of faith is governed by scripture simply can’t affirm or sanction such a radical re-description of sacred marriage.

But does that mean I have a duty or obligation as a Christian to try and use legislative means to prohibit the state from endorsing gay unions as marriages? No. But does that mean that as a citizen of the state, I should resign myself to bad ideas that will negatively affect my secular society? No again. As a citizen of the state with a vested interest in the health of my society, I see many reasons why attempts to legalize gay-marriage are misguided and unhealthy. Obviously decent citizens on both sides of this issue feel differently, but the point is both groups are within their rights to try and make their case through channels afforded to them by the state.

The distinction between secular citizenry and Christian faith is crucial for the following reason. If I–as a citizen–believe that legalization of “gay marriage” is going to lead to deleterious consequences for my society, does that belief therefore necessitate that it is my “Christian duty” to restrict or oppose the secular state in offering the same state and federal tax benefits to gay couples as married couples. No it does not.

However–and it’s a big HOWEVER– don’t ask me to hold it up in church as a marriage! As stated the only thing governments do for marriages is grant them a legal status for the accruing of certain state and federal privileges. If the secular state wants to allow gay couples to be afforded the same benefits as married couples, that is a decision completely outside the jurisdiction of the church. To be clear: as a rational citizen of the state, do I think it will be good for society, families and children in the long run? No–I do not. On  the other hand, though I may have grave misgivings about it as a state-citizen, I don’t have any scriptural mandate as a Christian to try and stop it. [3] Why? Because first I’m not called by God make the secular state adopt what the church holds to be sacred! Rather I’m called to showcase the sacred values of the Kingdom of God, like the sacredness of marriage, through faithful witness in the church–not government legislation or the state.

Given this fact, don’t tell me I’m a bigot when I say the Church can’t recognize gay couples as married couples–by definition! And don’t tell certain churches they can be charged with discrimination if they refuse to sanction gay unions as sacred marriages. For Christians who hold to revelatory scripture as their guiding principle and rule of faith, it is simply irrational and groundless to speak of two men as married. I can’t call two women or two men living together a marriage anymore than I can call a bachelor married! A gay marriage and a married bachelor are both incoherent because they both fail to meet the description of how God defines the sacred institution of marriage.

So Christians believe marriage is sacred–therefore it is not subject to human re-interpretation or re-description. It is for that reason that the Church can never endorse, celebrate or sanction gay couples as married couples.

That being said I want to turn the page and now argue further that much of Christendom’s intense campaign to enter the political fray–as if it is their Christian duty–and legislate their sacred views on sex and marriage upon a secular populace is ill-conceived from the outset. Why? Because God did not instruct the church to compel the secular populace to have the appearance of the church. God never instructed us take what is sacred in the church and force it upon a secular culture to be adopted. Rather our job is to point the way to the Kingdom and out of sin’s slavery and a secular worldview–not drown it out and crowd it out with protests and picket signs. Usually a strategy or approach that is ill-conceived is strewn with sticky tar pits and pit holes that unfortunately ensnare the well-meaning efforts of the sincere.

I can fully understand the need to take a stand if the powers-that-be were to ever try to force churches or pastors to sanction or bless same-sex marriages. But that is not the issue before us today. Maybe one day it will be, and the Church could be bullied and mistreated by our own government for remaining faithful to sacred scripture. Well– the Bible calls that persecution and Jesus told us to expect it if we intend to follow him wholeheartedly. American Christians have for so long identified an allegiance to the Kingdom of God with a patriotic allegiance to America, that the idea that American could one day persecute the Church is incomprehensible and must be preempted at all costs. But scripture no where tells us we are to preserve some sort of status quo homeostasis with the world to preempt her from persecuting us. But again–this simply isn’t the issue before us today. What is before us is the sincere yet misguided desire on the part of many well-intentioned Christians to want to see the secular populace reflect and copy the sacred life of the church community–and to use legislative law to force that reflection and appearance.

In other words my concern involves the increasing trend in many Christians thinking to see government as the divine tool of the Kingdom of God to validate what is sacred and reveal and preserve the “Christian way” in the secular society. Not only is that nowhere to be seen in Scripture, but that’s just not how it works. John 13:35 speaks of the fact that the secular world “will know us by our love”–not our laws.

In the sincere intensity of seeking to defend traditional marriage in the populace many Christians have unwittingly become very hateful and unloving towards others. And that is something not at all sacred. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Christians need to affirm and celebrate gay marriage–that would be equally misguided. As stated earlier, gay marriage misses the mark of God’s ideal–and that is the very definition of the Greek word sin (harmartia = to miss the mark). Therefore as ambassadors and representatives of God’s Kingdom ideal we need to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). But therein is the rub. To speak the truth un-lovingly is to equally miss the mark of God’s ideal–which means we ironically have on hand a whole lot of Christians sinning in their efforts to speak out against perceived sin!

In their efforts to preserve a sacred understanding of marriage, their words, their tone, and their internal attitude has deteriorated into a very desacralized place. Gay marriage and contempt of gays as persons of value– both desacralize the sacred.

[1] http://factsaboutyouth.com/posts/homosexual-parenting-is-it-time-for-change/

[2] http://factsaboutyouth.com/posts/homosexual-parenting-is-it-time-for-change/

[3] For a secular argument against accepting homosexuality as normative and healthy click here. 

-Strider MTB

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About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I am unmarried yet blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an even more broken and apathetic church.
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6 Responses to Gay Marriage, Gay Contempt–both Desacralize the Sacred

  1. David Atkins says:

    Could not the same arguments given here to suggest the church should not to superimpose its understanding of marriage on a pluralistic society be used to suggest the church should impose its view of life and abortion on the same pluralistic society?

    • StriderMTB says:

      It’s a great question David. I assume you mean “should not impose.” The answer is “yes” I don’t think the church is called to impose any Kingdom value on the world. Rather I believe we are called to personally live out and reflect Kingdom values in the world and in so doing be a witness to the fallen, corrupt world. That’s a far cry from imposing “the Christian view” on the world. When it comes to abortion I believe Christians are called first and foremost to display our beliefs on the sanctity of life by being the principal group to adopt unwanted babies and sacrificially serve women who are faced with such difficult decisions. Secondly I think the abortion debate is an issue in the secular populace that divides a lot of decent people. Therefore our approach should be to reason with the other side, appeal to a common, shared sense of decency and be willing to compromise. Abortion in our world is not merely a moral issue but a political issue–therefore compromise is almost certainly to be expected to reduce the number of abortions. Something both sides agree should happen. For example Christians may need to compromise on their position that life begins at conception in order to get the other side to agree that a legal definition of life begins when the brain waves reach a certain threshold–such as in the 9th week. I do think a compromise can be reached to achieve fewer abortions (which should be the ultimate aim) but both sides are so polarized on the issue–especially Christians who want to impose their sacred understanding of “life at conception” on the secular populace. In fact Christians throughout history haven’t even agreed on this matter. There has always been great debate on when a human fetus becomes a “soul” and an “image bearer of God.” When it comes to the sacred issue of marriage I don’t think there is much precedence in scripture to impose the “Christian position” on the secular populace. For example the case can be made that the Bible says marital unfaithfulness is the only grounds for divorce. But should we then seek to change divorce laws in the state to reflect this? Should we try to pass laws against pre-marital sex because it is condemned in the Bible? Of course the answer to these questions is no. However as a citizen I can voice my concern and even seek to influence the state to adopt a certain position that is in the interest of the society and state. But I shouldn’t make the mistake of saying, “Because this is the Christian position we need to legislate it for the rest of the world to adopt.”

  2. olanna says:

    As a non-christian, if every christian were like you, truly behaved in the manner that is compassionate, filled with love, I might be temped to join in. With so much hatred and forcefulness that leads to rebellion, I will rather stay away from the drama.

    • StriderMTB says:

      Thank you Olanna. I readily admit that the Church has long been infiltrated with elements and attitudes that are in conflict with both the words and actions of Jesus Christ. It is one of the greatest travesties and injustices to the heart of humanity. But I like to see these things as parasitic–not really part of the true essence. Jesus Christ is perfect theology and therefore every church, every Christian, every doctrinal teaching must bow before him. I have sought to explain my thoughts on this in another post you can find here. If I may press my allowance further I would like to suggest you visit the site http://www.reknew.org Some of the articles and videos have helped me to shed the parasites of wrong thinking that attached themselves to me along this journey called life. God bless you.

  3. Pingback: Greg Boyd: Church Response to Gays | A Theology in Tension

  4. Pingback: Isn’t Opposing both Racism and Gay Marriage Inconsistent? No. | A Theology in Tension

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